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“Good Experience”

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Ranked #2 of 30 things to do in Bryson City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: A 52-mile rail journey through valleys, inside winding tunnels and across spectacular gorges of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Cottontown, Tennessee
Level Contributor
214 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
“Good Experience”
Reviewed December 24, 2013

I've read several of the negative reviews on here and understand their frustrations, but some seem disappointed that Tom Hanks wasn't the conductor and they didn't see Aerosmith singing at the end. This train ride is put on by amateurs and it is an attraction that is trying to maximize its profit margin for a small town that finds itself at the end of the tourist season.

Magical for adults? No. For children? Yes. They can see past a lot of the things adults may notice like the lack of a steam engine and the instant cocoa. Some of the scenery wasn't great but train towns often have poor housing around them. However, if you ride when there's daylight, the view of the river is spectacular. Care was taken to ensure that all the house lights matched which added to the illusion that you were at the North Pole. Our "chefs" were good and enthusiastic. Now, they don't hop and dance on the seats, but maybe a dance group would be a nice addition in the future. Santa seemed rushed, but overall he was good. We liked the fact that we got jingle bells at the end. A nice surprise. My four year old daughter noticed that the reindeer were fake so maybe getting some real ones or leaving them out would be good. Be sure to take your copy of the Polar Express and ask Santa to sign it

Visited December 2013
5 Thank DaleS820
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,094 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Reno, Nevada
Level Contributor
22 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“An Enjoyable Touch with Yesteryear”
Reviewed December 23, 2013

If you are going to be in the Asheville, NC area, consider an hour's drive west to Bryson City where the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad starts. My husband and I stayed in Bryson City for 3 nights (Fryemont Inn) so we could spend the middle day riding the train. We made reservations ahead of time and decided to pop for first class to get a nice lunch served to us as it might have been in yesteryear.

It's a "touristy" thing, but lots of fun. I have heard others say they prefer the open cars, which cost less, but I'd say that depends on the weather. I don't think it would be as much fun to hang out the windows in bad weather. We went in October and it was clear but cool. We had a great time and would recommend it to individuals, couples, and families with children. The kids will also love the train museum with lots of model trains going this way and that upon exiting the train at the end of the round trip. I even got some good photos through the window while passing by beautiful fall foliage.

Visited October 2013
3 Thank prsmith8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Maries, Idaho
Level Contributor
83 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Polar Express -Fun with Grandchildren!”
Reviewed December 22, 2013

This was a fun thing to do with our grandchildren- some prep work involved if you want the most fun- watch The Polar Express movie before going and dress everyone in Christmas pajamas! Everyone 6 months to 62 years had a great time. A little pricey but they are striving to keep part of our history alive.

Visited December 2013
2 Thank theraglady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Huntsville, Alabama
Level Contributor
215 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“The Polar Express”
Reviewed December 19, 2013

We had a wonderful experience on the polar express! Our "chiefs" were a riot! I am not sure if they were all out of school for winter break or not but they were fun. They almost threw the cookies at us ( like in the movie). The widows were frosted the lights at the North Pole were fantastic! Santa was wonderful and certainly looked the part!

Visited December 2013
Thank HSVDane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Knoxville, Tennessee
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Terrible and certainly not worth the money.”
Reviewed December 14, 2013

The parking lot was muddy, the seats were cramped(we bought the middle price), the scenery was terrible, very little decorations. To top it off, the staff were rude and hateful. I would not recommend spending the money.

Visited December 2013
5 Thank momb8793
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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